I love Christmas. I like winter and the feeling that it is cold and frosty outside, and warm and cheery inside. The homemaker in me wants to throw all I have into Christmas and open up my doors to anyone who need or wants it. I do that to an extent but there is always a knock on effect. I can end up feeling a bit overwhelmed and disconnected from HL with all the running around and focus on other people. So while I love it, it is also exhausting at times.
One of the reasons for this is work. The run up to Christmas is the busiest time for me and I can feel myself almost crawling towards the holidays feeling very tired. I know that people mock the amount of holiday teachers get but I really think that the break makes it possible for us to put in what we do during term time. So for me, the holiday is not just a chance to get a break from work, it really allows me to re-charge and get some headspace for a while. I love what I do but it is emotionally draining and so the opportunity to switch off, even for a short while, is vital.
This year with COVID it has been even more stressful than usual. It isn’t just the risk that goes with being out there each day, it is the constant change, the eternal moving of goal posts, the certainty that you have to deliver the same sort of service, despite the uncertainty of anything else in the world. It has felt impossible. It has taken so much energy to keep going and to continually adapt to an everchanging set of circumstances, without the resources to match it. The emotional challenge to be the safe place for people, despite the reality, has been draining.
I won’t lie. It has had an impact on me in terms of mood, functionality and output. I have given my all to the job because that is the kind of job it is, and the knock on has been less energy and less to give in other areas. While I love my blog and my online life, that is one area where things have certainly taken a hit. While the holidays are usually a time that I can really get into blogging and catch up on admin, the Christmas holiday isn’t one where that happens easily so I am feeling a bit like I have lost something.
Having a blended family is a bit of a mixed bag over Christmas too. We have spent Christmas just the two of us and Christmas with 14 of us. Mostly they are either here for Christmas or here for New Year. I love having the house full and seeing the kids engage and interact with one another. Of course, they are pretty much all adults now now and it is so nice just to be able to spend time with them and to chill out and enjoy ourselves together. It is really busy though, so elements of it can feel like a military operation.
Food disappears and I can lose myself in the planning process. I don’t mean lose as in just becoming engrossed and spending time, I mean really lost. I sort of disappear into it so that my Christmas Menus (yes I DO actually have them – three meals a day including cakes and nibbles) end up looking like something akin to the requirements of a small hotel, rather than a family home. I like to make things myself, and after years of being frugal, find it hard to waste money buying things in, so make and bake from scratch.
I love this of course but it can feel a bit endless when you have such a large group to feed. Not only are the quantities enormous, I end up on a bit of a production line so that I am always thinking about the next meal or 5, and what is going to need doing next. Of course this is not really all needed and I over produce, setting myself ridiculous standards that lead to a sense of not keeping up, but this is my default. I bake through a crisis but sometimes, it is hard to see through the haze of icing sugar, when I am in the middle of a personal one.
Part of making things myself has been to do with saving money. This is something I have always done and picked up from my parents I think. I resent spending a lot on things I could do myself, so the economic advantage wins over the clear cost in time. When HL lost his job some years ago, things became very tight. This affected Christmas for a number of years and we really downscaled. While things looked the same to others, it was really down to some careful deception on my part.
I suppose at a time of so much commercialism, people spend in a way which means you don’t always notice exactly what is there. It can be extravagant and unnecessary and really throwing it all at a couple of days makes very little sense. I think that in many ways we have got lost in the land of plenty, and are able to pull in our belts at least a couple of notches, without anyone even noticing that things are tighter. But in doing that, I had to sort of change my thinking. It wasn’t about what I wanted to do but what I could do.
This year has been a little easier, although I worry about saying that as I am aware that for many, they are feeling what we did the past 4 years. I have felt more in the Christmas spirit though, more like I could make some of the changes that I had stopped myself thinking about around the home for a long time, and I have felt more engaged in the process of Christmas. I suppose this is to do with resources, but again they are not material. It has been a mental switch which has been shifted to a position where I feel able to make the change.
More psychological than financial, I think I no longer feel stuck. Feeling unable to make ends meet affected my creativity in some areas and therefore, emotionally it was easier just to shut that down. I didn’t mind about it at the time, but looking back I can see that in some ways I was quite detached from things which had previously mattered. This year, I have felt more like me in my approach to Christmas, and while it has made things busy, it is nice to have my head sparking with ideas and plans of things we can do again.
Along with my returning enthusiasm for celebrating Christmas has come a desire to embrace hygge. This is something I looked at before, but it didn’t really take seed until now. So, late to the party, I am making some changes to be more focussed and more mindful of the small things. HL and I have worked together on some plans and that has been really nice. It has given me a focus for my thoughts on our home and I am already feeling more relaxed and am enjoying the spaces we have more.
I am not one really for New Year’s Resolutions, but this is something that I want to continue into the year to come. When changes happen beyond your control it is challenging, and we have all felt that this year more than ever. But the flip side is time to see what is important, what really matters and to embrace that in a way which works for you. I know that we have changes coming and I want to feel better equipped to cope so that I approach them with a growth mindset, rather than retreating into my shell and making do until things return to normal.
I have let the idea of normal go and that has been refreshing. I am looking forward and not back and finding much more comfort and safety in the here and now and in the constants. Life will be ever-changing and not all of those changes will be ones that you wish for, but they are what they are. I am enjoying the feeling of warmth that I get from the small things I do have. I am feeling able to see things in a fresh way and to experience on a more basic level and this is something that I hope push into my outlook on other areas too.
D/s and the holidays
D/s and Christmas can be tricky with a house full. I also experience some burn out and need really tight management from HL. My tendency to micro-manage can probably be seen from some of what is written above and the structure of D/s is vital in helping to keep me on the straight and narrow. Being honest, we have never really nailed this. If only knowing meant doing, we would have this sorted by now. So the theory is there but the practice is where we fall down and I am not sure if this year will be the one or not.
We have talked about it, of course, and so I hope that we will be able to find the ways to keep each other at the centre and kindle the spark and deep connection that comes from time spent together. I guess when you know it is for a short period then you can be more complacent, assuming that you will have time to really put in the effort at the other end. I would like this not to be the case. With the current restrictions post-Christmas, we are likely to have a full house well into the middle of January.
I don’t want to be waiting until then to call Bingo though. We have been working together on various pre-Christmas projects and while they have kept the togetherness, the physical side could probably do with being reignited. We have both been tired and so the time and effort that should have gone into play and scenes has just not been there and we have relaxed into what is easy and works rather than being adventurous and pushing boundaries. Finding ways to do this with eyes and ears all around can be tricky, but I hope that some Christmas magic will help to get things back where we both know they can be.
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